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  • On the eve of a new year, in wintery Canada, my mind is turning, already, to planting a large vegetable garden. That the garden is at a cider-producing farm in the west of France and with people I've grown to love, is still so incredible to me: It feels like a personal fairytale of sorts.

    I can't say I'm an avid gardener, or even a terribly experienced one, but armed with vision and purpose, I'm ready to see what blooms.

    The garden-to-be is in an area surrounded by patches of wild fields and apple trees, near an orchard tended by sheep and a tenacious young goat named Guinness, and since my first visit, my friends have added a hen house nearby. I remember from the high summer all kinds of insects, birds, wild flowers and brambles full of wild berries existing around what will become a large, working organic garden.

    According to what I've read about organic gardening, this combination is perfect--wild and cultivated, existing side by side. Sourcing out cow shit, seeds and plants, the best methods, will take some doing with my limited French but mostly, right now, as winter falls upon Toronto, I can already envision how to start my days.

    Waking early, before the household stirs, I will go and sit in the garden with my bol de cafe, content to simply listen and watch and meditate on the unfolding beauty around me. As I watch the early fog roll in from the nearby sea, I will contemplate large and small issues of being a human faced with the raw ingredients of survival. Earth. Sunshine. Rain. I imagine eventually, producing enough to feed a busy household, an auberge and I hope, enough to make others want to indulge in some culinary magic.

    I am aware I am leaving loved ones behind, leaving the busy, dirty, frustrating, and often wonderful city I live in, to go to a place where I barely speak the language. I imagine days of turning soil and I am only aware it is a journey borne of love and faith.
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